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FAQ for
The Virgin Spring (1960) More at IMDbPro »Jungfrukällan (original title)

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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Virgin Spring can be found here.

When medieval Swedish landowners Tre (Max von Sydow) and Mreta's (Birgitta Valberg) only daughter Karin (Birgitta Pettersson) is raped and murdered by three goat herders -- played by Axel Düberg, Tor Isedal, and Ove Porath -- who then make the mistake of seeking shelter that very evening at Karin's parents' house, her parents exact their own revenge when they learn that their 'guests' have killed their daughter.

No. The Virgin Spring (Swedish: Jungfrukllan) was adapted by Swedish screenwriter Ulla Isaksson from a 13th-century Swedish ballad, "Tres dttrar i Wnge" ("Tre's daughters in Vnge"), a legend that explains the origin of a local 12th-century church. The film won an Academy Award in 1961 for the Best Foreign Language Film. It provided the inspiration for the 1972 Wes Craven horror film The Last House on the Left.

The literal translation is jung (young) + fru (miss/lady) which, taken together, insinuate a 'virgin'. Add to it klla (spring/well) + en (the), and the phrase can be translated as 'the virgin spring.' Note that 'spring' in this sense refers not to the season but to a place where water wells up from an underground source.

No, not in this movie as evidenced when, at various times in the film, both Tre and Mreta speak of Karin as their 'only' daughter. Ingeri is a pregnant pagan girl who has been taken in and given work as a servant. In some summaries of the film, however, Ingeri and Karin are referred to as sisters, stepsisters, half-sisters, or foster sisters. This idea may have arisen from the original ballad in which three sisters were murdered by three brothers.

Ingeri is jealous of Karin. They are both about the same age, but Ingeri is pregnant (whether by rape or consent is not revealed), while Karin is pampered, given fine clothes, and allowed to carry the candles to the church for the celebration of Our Lady of Virgins. Karin will be raised as a fine woman whereas Ingeri's life will be that of a servant. Ingeri cannot help but feel resentment over her lot in life.

They don't at first. It's only when one of the goatherders offers Mreta a robe Karin was wearing that Mreta recognizes the robe and immediately realizes that harm has come to her daughter. Tre then extracts an eyewitness account from Ingeri (Gunnel Lindblom), who actually witnessed the rape and murder.

When Tre learns that the three goatsmen killed Karin, he kills them in a rage, one by stabbing, another by burning, and the third (a young boy) by tossing him against a wall. Tre, Mreta, Ingeri, and the servants then go looking for Karin's body. Ingeri leads them to the spot under the trees where Karin's body lies. Mreta takes the blame upon herself for loving Karin more than God, but Tre assures her that only God knows where the blame lies. As Mreta weeps over her dead daughter's body, Tre walks over to the river and, in penance for his vengeance, vows to build a church on the spot where Karin died. In the final scene, Tre returns to Karen's side and, as he and Mreta take up Karin's body, a spring wells up in the spot where her head rested. Taking up a handful of water, Ingeri washes her face. Mreta does the same for Karin.

'Original, meaning the version as it was originally written in the 13th century, is probably lost to history. However, in 1812, Swedish folk singer Greta Naterberg wrote down the ballad. It was printed in Svenska folkvisor frn forntiden vol. 3. The text in English goes as such:

Pehr Tyrsson's daughters in Vnge 
The forest was so cold 
They slept a sleep too long 
While the forest came into leaf 
The youngest one woke up first 
The forest... 
And so she woke up the others. 
While the forest... 
Then they sat up on their beds. 
So they braided each other's locks. 
So they put on their silken clothes. 
So they went to the church. 
But when they came to the Vnge hill 
They met three highwaymen 
"You either be highwaymen's wives, 
Or would you lose your young lives?" 
"We do not wish to be highwaymen's wives, 
We'd rather lose our young lives." 
They cut their heads off on a log of birch. 
There soon three wells sprung up. 
The bodies buried in the mud, 
The clothes taken to the village. 
When they came to Vnge farm, 
Lady Karin met them in the yard 
"And would you buy silken shifts, 
By nine maidens knitted and stitched?" 
"Untie your sacks and let me see, 
Perhaps I know all three." 
Lady Karin beat her chest in pain, 
And went to find Pehr Tyresson. 
"There are three highwaymen in our yard, 
Who have our daughters slain." 
Pehr Tyrsson grasped his sword, 
He slew the eldest two. 
The third he left alive, 
And then he asked him thus: 
"What is your father's name? 
What is your mother's name?" 
"Our father is Pehr Tyrsson in Vnge, 
Our mother is Lady Karin in Strnge." 
Pehr Tyrson then went to the smithy, 
And had iron crafted 'round his waist. 
"What shall we do for our sins?" 
"We shall build a church of lime and stone. 
That church will be named Kerna, 
And we will willingly build it."


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